… women, men, queer, gender non-conforming, trans*… we all need relationships. No, I don’t mean snuggle up in the sheets with BAE through cuffing season type of relationship. I mean, we are hardwired for real connection with others. I don’t want to bore you with academic research on the power of social support. Just know that relationships are fundamental to living life well.
Let’s take it back a moment. If you have a child or have ever spent any decent amount of time with a child, you will notice how much they vie for your attention. They want you to notice them, appreciate them, and praise them. Dr. Dan Siegel argues that children need the four “S’s” in relationships, which are to be…
This experiment involved taking an infant monkey and providing it with two options. It can either hang out with a fake wire monkey that has the food or a fake monkey that was plush and cuddly. What did the monkey do? It chose the contact comfort of the fake monkey that mimicked a caregiver.
I am summarizing here but that little monkey would rather risk going without food than risk going without a relationship. What does that say? We need people. When we start to isolate ourselves and tell ourselves that others don’t matter, we wither away. I’ll say it another way. We need to foster real connections with people in our lives. This is where we thrive. Forget the, “I don’t need anybody,” or the, “I’m doing this without anyone.” What would the world be like if a) We were available for other and B) Others are available for us?
Now, if you have lived any amount of time on this earth you will know that this is easier said than done. We have been hurt. It is hard to trust. People can be cruel. It is hard to be vulnerable. Vulnerability is a privilege. Take it one step further and many have experienced what Dr. Jennifer J. Freyd calls betrayal trauma, which is a trauma that occurred by people or institutions that are designed to be trusted. We have been rejected and oppressed. I see this. I get it.
Dr. Jean Baker Miller and her colleagues coined the “five good things” of good, healthy relationships:
Doesn’t that sound nice? When we enter into authentic and mutual/reciprocal relationships, we feel and do better. So, I encourage you to challenge yourself and tell someone how important they are to you. And, if you find yourself stuck or sad in life or about life, I encourage you to reach out to spend time with like-minded people who share in your values. I promise, a good conversation and a good laugh is the best meal you can have. Seriously, you don’t have to walk alone.
These concise blog posts were created to make information about mental health understandable, relatable, and accessible to non-mental health professionals.
Please note: information in these articles are not clinical recommendations. Rather, they are general tools for thinking about your mental health in a different way. They have been written by
Dr. Shatina Williams and should not be reproduced without her permission.
Photo Credit: Pixaby.com